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Invasion Literature Not Justified — ‘The Midwich Cuckoos’ (TV Review)

2 min read


It seems fairly redundant at this stage to explain the plot of The . Most will know of it. Either through reading the 1957 book by , or through the two film versions. The 1960 British horror classic with George Sanders, which renamed the story to , or the John Carpenter remake from 1995 which shared the same name. This new adaptation is mostly consistent with those. However, rather than referring to the “red threat” or the usual subtext of invasion literature, this one seems to focus far more on the maternal relationship to these children and the conflicts that causes in the residents of Midwich.


Whether this story holds up in modern times is another issue. However you look at the subtext, there is an undercurrent of racism and othering that persists. For all its attempts to modernise the concept, and anchor the fear in the abortion debate and women's autonomy, there is still a troubling feeling to it all. The blame of the conflict between adults is placed on their “different” children. Almost universally wealthy middle-class families are undermined and disrupted by invaders. Is this the story that we need to be telling when Britain is so determined to separate itself from other nations to its detriment?

Parents of neurodiverse children too will find this somewhat uncanny. As they are shown the inherent evil of children who present differently to others, appearing gifted in some ways, and deficient in others.


That's not to say it isn't an entertaining yarn. Of course it is. The Midwich Cuckoos fills its runtime, being well made, well directed with solid performances. The children in particular earn their screentime. Unusually too, the show bridges a slightly strange stylistic line between Nordic Noir and Doctor Who, which makes sense when you look at the directorial team. This is perhaps enough to justify its existence for most.

But considering how invasion literature is almost never about what it seems, it's a shame that the writers here didn't think a little more about how to tell this story in particular. Should we still be without question at the end of this show, that the children are the demons? Surely, it should be a little more complicated than that?

The Midwich Cuckoos is available on Sky and NowTV now.